The power is out on the compound now which is actually a blessing in disguise because it’s finally given me an opportunity to write my next blog post. It is quiet at the embassy since it is Saturday, the sun is brightly shining and the weather is a nice cool spring morning. It’s *rare* days like this one that make Baghdad feel like a liveable place, a normal life for those who call it home. Of course, this peaceful feeling is nothing more than wishful thinking and nostalgia for my own experiences growing up in the desert and enjoying the springtime weather reminiscent of my happy childhood, since Baghdad and the greater country of Iraq is still rife with conflict.
Two days ago the embassy played host to children who have been displaced from their homes. They are living in refugee camps and have come from cities in Iraq that have been overrun by ISIS and other struggles. For many of them, their homes no longer exist – they have nothing to return to.
These children came and played sports, crafted, and danced with us for several hours, they ate candy and ice cream, and went home with some toys. It was a magical day for everyone, Americans included, to live innocently and carefree if only for a fleeting moment. A reminder of the peace we would like to see in Iraq.
Contrast this world against that which we experienced on R&R. I try not to take for granted the opportunities we are rewarded for our time served in Iraq – it is generous and appreciated. Our lives are not like those of the children living in refugee camps and it would be wrong not to recognize our privilege.
As part of our deal for working one year in Iraq, we are afforded three R&Rs that are each three weeks long. These breaks are indeed necessary as the pace of our work can be taxing. Many have trouble sleeping here since we are always connected to the job – for the most part, we eat, sleep, and work. So after three-and-a-half months of six to seven work days a week, David and I were ready for that first R&R. And no surprise, we went back to our beloved France, but this time we added a leg to Germany which gave us an opportunity to see Bavaria and Salzburg, Austria.
I won’t be able to write out the details of our journey because three weeks was indeed a long vacation and even we were surprised at how much time we had off. But I want to share some pictures and the highlights. It was a beautiful trip with many adventures. Alhamdullilah.